Empires of the Sky (Coronet Books) by Anthony Sampson is an essential starting point. It was published in 1985 but it is pretty much up to date, it mainly covers the growth of the industry from the 50s up to the mid 80s so it covers the introduction of jets, the beginning of global mass transit and deregulation. You can get it on Amazon.co.uk (via Marketplace) for a few quid.
Also Frequent Flyer (One Plane, One Passenger, and the Spectacular Feat of Commercial Flight) by Bob Reiss, published in 1994, where the author rides on a Delta L1011 for a few days (ATL
etc) and along the way delves into all kinds of aspects of the industry and the operation. Highly recommended and very readable.
Also Skygods by Robert Gandt (recently reissued), the history of the jetage through the eyes of a Pan Am pilot who joins in the early 60s as a junior first officer as part of Pan Am's massive recruitment drive for pilots to fly their burgeoning 707 fleet ("congratulations men, you're going to be SST captains!") up to the bankruptcy in 1991, covering the crashes of the late 60s (five 707s lost in a couple of years), the National Airlines debacle, the IGS, Lockerbie and the UA
buyouts. Fascinating and beautifully written, embracing both the business and some great flying stories.
And of course the all time essential read: Fate Is The Hunter by Ernest K Gann. I shall nothing of this book except to say you have to read it if you want to be a member of the club.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz